Exploring the perspectives of parents towards sexuality education for adolescents with ASD in Singapore
Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have the same physiological development as typical developing individuals whereby acquiring healthy dating and sexual relationships are crucial in this stage of life. The Singapore Government highlighted in the Enabling Masterplan that most individuals with special needs do not receive sexuality education at home or in school, and service providers are not equipped with the skills in providing sexuality education and the management of sexuality related incidents. The lack of knowledge in this area increases their risk of being sexually abused. Sexuality is a basic activity of daily living, as mentioned in the occupational therapy practice framework. As a profession, occupational therapists are equipped with the skills to promote health, and prevent disease and disability through meaningful occupations across the lifespan. Occupational Therapists are not experts in sexuality but understand the impact of sexuality on the occupational profile of adolescents with ASD. Current evidence shows that parents play the primary role in educating sexual health for their child, and their perceptions towards their child's sexual development influence how they communicated with their child on sexuality, and the content addressed. However, there are gaps in knowledge regarding the attitudes towards sexuality education for adolescents with ASD in Singapore. This study will thus explore the attitudes and perspectives of parents with adolescents with ASD, using a generic qualitative approach. Focus Group Discussions will be employed to understand the attitudes and concerns of parents, and the barriers in providing sexuality education for their child with ASD. With in-depth understanding on parents’ needs and perceptions, it will assist service providers in better defining their roles in this overlooked topic of study. This will hopefully kick-start the production of quality resources and establish better support framework/network for the parents of adolescents with ASD.